Colossal Review: A Monster Smash

Sure, Colossal is a monster movie. But, above all else, the Nacho Vigalondo written and directed charmer is a dark comedy through and through.

Anne Hathaway stars as Gloria, a Manhattanite who is quite lost as our story commences. She is coming home in the morning after a raging night out and her live-in boyfriend X (Dan Stevens) is none too please. In fact, her things are packed in the bedroom and he wants her out. With nowhere to go, she decides to head back to her upstate New York home which has been left abandoned by her parents. Almost immediately, she runs into her childhood friend Oscar (Jason Sudeikis), who now owns and runs his father’s bar. The two pick up where their friendship left off and Gloria seems to have found a fellow partying spirit in Oscar and his friends.

Meanwhile, thousands of miles away, an enormous monster trashes Seoul, South Korea… leaving massive death and destruction in its path. Before too long, Gloria realizes that these catastrophic events a half a planet away are firmly connected to her ever-winding spiral towards complete self destruction.

When saluting the brilliance of Colossal, an enormous amount of the credit has to be firmly lodged on the shoulders of Vigalondo. The wickedly creative force behind this most original of monster movies that not only spotlights a literal monster trashing an Asian city, but also the monsters that each one of us have living inside of us. He paints with laser sharp precision and doesn’t waste a frame of film as he jockeys between the urban streets of Manhattan, the rural landscape of upstate New York and the decimated urban jungle of Seoul.

His scope may be large (monster movie milieu), but his attention to detail on the smallest of canvases is incredible. This is a still character driven story with extremely well drawn out souls that exist in a world that we believe is real. We firmly pull for them to resolve their differences, come to peace with their past, present and future and most importantly, find some sort of conclusion to the question of how their existence is literally killing hundreds 6,000 miles away. Yet with all this seriousness of issues, there are still plenty of rooms for laughs. As we said, this is a dark comedy… through and through. That comes through in the witty writing and the delivery by the film’s leads.

We all know that Sudeikis is a comedian and has been making us laugh for over a decade. He does that in Colossal, but he also has dramatic chops that has him finding levels of disdain and darkness that brings a shade of grey to his character that we haven’t seen too much from the actor in the past. All the while, he maintains his affable exterior that still has us firmly with his character as he too slowly spins out of control with Hathaway.

Speaking of the Oscar winner, Hathaway has made some of the wisest choices she could make career-wise since winning that Academy Award for Les Miserables. Colossal is her finest post-award moment. Her character is a wreck. She is a drunk. Gloria finds humor in her South Korean monster parallel, but it is when she finds the humanity in what is happening a half a world away that the actress truly shows her depth of talent. Hathaway and Sudeikis make quite a one-two punch of hilarity, horror and yes, heart.

Colossal is one of those movies that is likely going to land in the history bucket alongside films such as Donnie Darko and its ilk. It is an instant cult classic that must be sought out. Its title could not be more impeccable. It describes the monster itself, the enormity of the performances within, the talent of a new writer-director and above all else, the film’s place on today’s cinematic landscape that is filled with remakes, sequels and TV shows brought to the silver screen. It is Colossal in every way.

Grade: A